Vendors, council officials fail to agree on market fee hike in Karonga

Vendors and district council authorities in Malawi’s northern border district of Karonga are failing to come up with lasting solution on their misunderstanding over the recently hiked market fees in which the vendors are pushing the council officials to reduce the rate.

The district council officials increased the rate from K80 to K120 with effect from July but were forced to temporary suspend the adjustment paving way for further negotiations on the matter after the vendors held protests against the increase.

Speaking during the consultative meeting which was aimed at sorting out the misunderstanding, District Commissioner Emmanuel Bambe emphasized on the need for people to adhere to the council’s bylaws which include paying of market fee.

“It is unfortunate to see people are refusing to develop the district by not obeying the bylaws set by the consultative members. I don’t have powers to revise the decisions made by this house but for the interest of peace in our district, I temporary the suspended the increase for the sake of sanity,” said Bambe.

He therefore pleaded with people to abide by the bylaws agreed during consultative meetings which seek to develop the district.

Bambe addressing the meeting
Bambe addressing the meeting

“Consultative meeting is our parliament, so whatever we decide here is for the betterment of our own district to reach the status that we want so that it should be called municipality,” said Bambe.

It was revealed at the meeting that it was not only Karonga main market vendors who deny to pay the new market fees but also other rural markets including Nyungwe, Pusi, Uliwa and Chilumba.

Chairman of Nyungwe market in the southern part of Karonga Matias Mwalwimba said they did not agree to the new market fees because they were not realizing much profits from their businesses.

“Worse still our rate went as high as K200 while our friends at the main market were asked to  pay  K120 only a thing that we consider an insult to us because the whole profit was going to the council ,” said Matias.

District Financial Officer Edson Zaniku said the council decided to raise the market fees in response to the hikes in electricity and water tariffs which made them spend more than the revenue collected.

“We did not just raise the rates on our own but because the council is meeting more challenges to pay electricity and water bills,” said Zaniku.

He added: “Imagine electricity went up to 63.5%in July 2012, 41.3% in November 2012 and 29.7% in May 2013 a total increase of 134.53% and water we have a total increase of 60% within 14 months,” he said.

But the Vendors in all the markets denied to bow down to the new rates saying they are also experiencing challenges in their business.

“We still want the market fees to be K80 as we are paying now. You should also think about us because we take care of orphans and our relatives and we also pay school fees for our children through the same business,” said Godwin Ghambi Chairman of Karonga Main Market Committee agreeing.

The two parties failed to reach in agreement about the market fees a development which forced the  Paramount chief Kyungu to ask the vendors to go back and decide on the new  rate .

“I urge you to go back and think twice on the market fees to develop our own district and come here for conclusion after two weeks, I have said these because I don’t want to hear of violence in Karonga again on simple issues,” said Kyungu.

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